Andy Carroll has opened up about his second stint at Newcastle to our legendary number nine Alan Shearer in an exclusive interview with The Athletic.
Things didn’t work out as smoothly as they did the first time for Carroll on Tyneside, with the target man bagging just once in 43 appearances during his second coming, a late consolation in a 2-1 defeat to Leicester.
Most of his game time came from the substitutes bench; Bruce’s preference to play with one recognised striker saw his opportunities limited in a frustrating two years at our club.
Carroll, still a free agent since being released this summer, initially thought he would be playing the final years of his career for his boyhood club.
This is what he said to our club legend:
“We were talking [about a new contract] and mentioning it,”
“I said, ‘What’s happening?’ and it was, ‘At the end of the season we’ll talk about it’ and that’s how it was left.
“At the end of the season, it wasn’t (talked about). I just kind of got the idea. There was no point in chasing anything.
“I wasn’t with an agent at the time, so I was getting all sorts of phone calls and people trying to push deals, but in my head I thought I was finishing my career at Newcastle.
“After the game [the last game of 2020/21], it was, ‘Ah, I might see you, I might not, we’ll see what happens’, and then nothing happened,”
“We just got on the bus and left and I never saw them again. My contract ran out and that was it. I never went back.
“I’ve still got my locker up there full of my stuff. The kitman rang me the other day, so I’m getting it moved down.”
“I thought that was going to be me for the next four or five years. It didn’t happen and it didn’t happen for many reasons.
“To be honest, it was really hard for me, not playing when I thought I could have made a difference.”
“I didn’t really get a run out at Newcastle. I was in, I was out, I was in again. And I was fit all season.
“The stats say that for 43 games, I was available for 40 of them. I was training every day; I think I was in the top four in training throughout the year.
“I didn’t play as much as I wanted and I wasn’t even involved in as many games as I wanted, which is disappointing, especially with all the injuries I’ve had over the years.
“There’s no denying they kept me out at West Ham and Liverpool, but for the last two years, I’ve been relatively fit.”
Newcastle shifted Carroll off the wage bill without replacing him, leaving Steve Bruce’s attacking options looking desperately lightweight – especially considering first-choice Callum Wilson is currently ruled out with a thigh injury.
Shearer asked Carroll whether he was surprised to be released by the club over the summer:
“Without a doubt, yeah.
“I mean, 100 per cent I wanted to be there. I could have played more last season, I could be playing there this season.
“I’m not saying I should be playing every week, but I think I’ve still got something to give, to be part of Newcastle or any club.
“I’ve still got that hunger in me but the manager makes his decisions. That’s what happens in football.
“He had his ideas and I wasn’t part of them.”
Carroll also rues our 3-0 defeat against Brighton in September last year, a game that saw him hooked at half-time and a result he feels was unfairly pinned on him:
“It was tough. I would play, then not play the next game, or I would come on for the last minute and it was a bit stop-start.
“We beat West Ham in the first game of last season and I started and I still think that was the best we played as a team, and then the next game against Brighton I got took off at half-time and then didn’t start another league game until January.
“We were disappointed with the performance and result against Brighton, but it was kind of blamed on me.
“When I did come on for five or 10 minutes, I felt like I had an impact.
“I just thought, ‘Give me 10 more minutes and we would have done something in the game’. Because the dynamics changed every time I did come on. We had chances.”